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Summertime  (Level: 108.9 - Posts: 1122)
Tue, 22nd Dec '09 6:58 AM


I was enjoying reading through the oxymorons offered by our fellow sploofusers, when one struck a familiar cord. Achad added "Pretty Ugly" to the thread which, though clearly an oxymoron, but brought an often thought question to mind.

Your Dictionary defines pretty as -

1. pleasing or attractive in a dainty, delicate, or graceful way rather than through striking beauty, elegance, grandeur, or stateliness
2. fine; good; nice: often used ironically a pretty fix
3. adroit; skillful a pretty move
4. Archaic - elegant
5. Now Chiefly Scot. brave; bold; gallant
6. Informal; considerable; quite large a pretty price

The etymology, in part, is crafty < prætt, craft, trick. question! What does "pretty" mean when used as follows?

How are you feeling today? Pretty good, thanks for asking.
What time are you leaving? I'll be out the door pretty soon.
Are you going to bed now? Yes, I'm pretty tired.
How's the weather outside? Whew, it's pretty hot.

That market had a pretty good variety of produce.
Suzie is a pretty good cook.

Given the definition; why in Sam's Hill is pretty used within a question, response or statement. I don't get it!

Rowlanda  (Level: 70.0 - Posts: 2856)
Tue, 22nd Dec '09 7:21 AM

Oxymoronic title to this thread....
"Pretty mean" HAHAHAHA

I think the reason for the differences Summer,
is that the word Pretty can be used as an adjective
or as an adverb....and even as a VERB - as in
"Prettied up the house for Christmas"
Also as a NOUN - as in "My pretty"

Diverse - if pretty lukewarm - word meanings.
Similar to the word "Nice"

Alvandy  (Level: 225.6 - Posts: 7525)
Tue, 22nd Dec '09 8:47 AM

Pretty is used pretty heavily and pretty much in everyday conversation in our language it appears.

Alvandy  (Level: 225.6 - Posts: 7525)
Tue, 22nd Dec '09 8:48 AM

Oh by the way- isn't my avatar "pretty"? Peppermint patties make for pretty good eating.

Summertime  (Level: 108.9 - Posts: 1122)
Tue, 22nd Dec '09 8:59 AM

Yes Al, your avatar is very pretty. I'm willing to bet you consume a pretty high number of Peppermint Pattys.

Thank you for your input Row....but, I still don't get understand why!!!!

Felix  (Level: 109.3 - Posts: 2500)
Tue, 22nd Dec '09 9:02 AM

Yep! It's Awful Pretty!

Smoke  (Level: 96.7 - Posts: 12009)
Tue, 22nd Dec '09 9:53 AM

It seems to mean "fairly" which also shares a root word meaning good-looking, so go figure, huh?

Foogs  (Level: 264.8 - Posts: 848)
Tue, 22nd Dec '09 10:40 AM

It's an intensifier, like the word "very." Those who
write word puzzles should use it more often. It's
pretty useful.

Donden  (Level: 112.5 - Posts: 2127)
Tue, 22nd Dec '09 11:04 AM

That pretty much says it all.

Summertime  (Level: 108.9 - Posts: 1122)
Wed, 23rd Dec '09 3:55 AM

Thanks for the input everyone, however, I'm still pretty confused as to why pretty is pretty often used.

Surreyman  (Level: 257.1 - Posts: 2766)
Wed, 23rd Dec '09 4:03 AM

I've always assumed it's one of the many corruptions from Norman French into English, from 'petit'.
But that's only my guess. Interesting. I'll go and delve!

Kaufman  (Level: 254.0 - Posts: 3936)
Wed, 23rd Dec '09 5:57 AM

But it's a moderate or lukewarm intensifier, unlike very.

Mickeym  (Level: 87.5 - Posts: 1803)
Wed, 23rd Dec '09 7:40 AM

Pretty is specifically an intensifier with a dubious air to it. If you are pretty hungry you're more than slightly hungry but not yet very hungry. Or it can take on the color of what goes around it....Wow, give me that whole cake, I'm pretty hungry....and now it is more emphatic than very. Pretty useful word.

M48ortal  (Level: 248.2 - Posts: 3734)
Wed, 23rd Dec '09 8:58 AM

The best synonym in your original list is "considerable," which we often think means "much." However, when "pretty" is used in this light it means 'enough to be considered' or noticeable. If I'm pretty hungry, it's strong enough for me to consider eating. If a lady is pretty, she is attractive enough that I notice, which makes Mrs. C. pretty annoyed (and I notice that, also). Same thing if something is pretty ugly. You very rarely see something described as "pretty nondescript."

Foogs  (Level: 264.8 - Posts: 848)
Wed, 23rd Dec '09 9:09 AM

"Very," and by extension "pretty," are pet peeves
of mine. If your question has yet to be answered,
Summertime, they indicate weak vocabulary.

Rather than something being very ugly, why not
try hideous or gruesome or grotesque. Rather
than something being pretty simple, why not
effortless or child's play.

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